Nicholas Hunt-Bull – Letter to Myself at Age 11

Dear Nicholas,

It is strange to get to write this letter to you from the future – I know that at 11 you already believe time travel impossible, but please don’t worry about that and just read this.

You are used to a pretty unpredictable world already. Growing up moving to different countries every few years will do that, and where you are right now in Italy is certainly leaving a mark, what with Red Brigade terrorists killing major politicians and bomb scares at school every few weeks. Nonetheless, you have a sense of personal safety and comfort... life might be a bit crazy out there, but at home and in your semi-mythological homeland of Canada, you know that everything is safe, predictable and stable.

You learned to read when you were 7, but somehow being way behind your fellow students (they stuck you in grade three classes in the British school in Rome to be with your age-mates) did not dent your confidence much. You just learned to read “Dick and Jane” and went on to the encyclopedia – but somehow you never could figure out what order the letters went in the encyclopedia, so you just flip through the pages to find interesting articles, don’t you?

As your future self, I warn you of two things: the first is that your world is going to crash very soon. Your dad will walk out and you will learn a whole lot of new things, almost none of them good. At least you will know what poverty is and never take too much for granted later in life. You will also be an adult well before your time.

The second is that you are dyslexic – that is why you cannot memorize anything and why you cannot figure out what order the letters run in the alphabet. School is always going to be a struggle. Never forget that you are neither lazy nor stupid. As a few of your teachers will notice, there just might be something different about you that explains why you seem so smart but do so badly. Learning things the hard way will serve you well in the end. Don’t worry, you’ll survive it.

Good luck, and see you in 30 years.

Nicholas Hunt-Bull, age 42
Associate professor of philosophy
Director of the Honors Program

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